Live from Uncovering Hidden Data

New York–Do you know where your data are? According to Denise Hopkins, senior director of marketing, data management for Experian, you’re probably ignoring some elements of information because they’re stored in less-than-obvious places. For that reason, during her Wednesday session on data quality at the DMA’s conference she advocated building a data map.

A data map charts not only what data your company has and where they’re stored but also where the data come from and where they go. Hopkins cited four areas where data could be stored: at the product level, the channel level, internal operations, and sales processes. Internal ops data are frequently overlooked during the planning and implementation of marketing plans, she said–often to ill effect. Hopkins mentioned a catalog company that was rolling out a plan targeting its highest-value customers. The program was well under way when it realized that the billing department had data regarding customers who had excessively high return rates–people who apparently bought an item, used it once, then returned it. A number of these customers, Hopkins said, were among the “best buyers” being targeted.

Maintaining and measuring data quality has become more challenging in recent years, Hopkins said. Direct marketers used to measure it largely by reviewing how much mail was returned or how many outbound calls were to incorrect phone numbers. Now, though, multichannel marketing and the growth of real-time integration online has lead to increasing amounts of data and the need for the data to be linked.

Further complicating matters, Hopkins said, is that consumers still expect high levels of service and personalization but are volunteering less information about themselves.

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